Posts Tagged “Boise State”

So, it’s a forgone conclusion that the consolation prize for the Pac-10/11 is now the Utah Utes.
It’s official – the Pac-10 will be a 12-member conference (and probably called the Pac-12) as Utah will accept the invite from the conference.

Actually, I’m happy about it. I wasn’t really thrilled with the prospect of having to play Texas and Oklahoma in football every year – any thoughts of a Rose Bowl could just be kissed goodbye.

But now, with Utah and Colorado in the fold, a Rose Bowl is still possible, depending on which division USC gets placed in – and even then, we’ve got a good shot anyway for the next two years as USC is banned from the postseason.

All this conference expansion discussion is now moving toward finding out who the next BCS Automatic Qualifier (AQ) will be, if there even will be one.

According to the BCS, the rules for gaining an AQ are simple:

Under the terms of the agreements with the bowls and television rightsholder, the ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC will have annual automatic qualification for their champions for the 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.

Results from the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 regular seasons will be evaluated to determine whether a seventh conference earns automatic qualification for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 bowl games.

This means that after the 2011 season, there might be a 7th AQ. How will they determine the next AQ?

Actually, it’s based on three criteria over the four-year review period:

  1. The final BCS ranking of the conference’s highest-ranked team
  2. The final regular-season rankings of every team in the conference by the six BCS computers
  3. The number of teams the conference has in the Top 25 of the final BCS standings

Criterion number 3 is based on points: a rank of 1-6 = 4pts, 7-12 = 3 pts, 13-18 = 2pts, and 19-25 = 1pt. There are adjustments to account for conferences that have a disparate number of teams:

  • 12+ members = no adjustments
  • 10-11 members = additional +12.5% of total
  • 9 or fewer members = additional +25% of total

A conference will become the seventh automatic qualifier if it finishes among the top six conferences in both [Criterion] No. 1 and No. 2 and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 50 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3.

This will all make sense in a moment. The first one is easy to figure out – the highest ranked team for each conference. Since the review period began in 2008, we only have two seasons to work with, making it very simple. Remember, this is an average of the highest final BCS rankings (pre-bowls) from 2008-09. It also takes into account the latest movements by Nebraska, Colorado, Boise State, and Utah:

  1. SEC: 1.5
  2. Big 12: 1.5 (yes, I know it’s a tie)
  3. Pac-10: 6
  4. MWC: 6.5
  5. Big East: 7.5
  6. Big Ten: 8
  7. ACC: 11.5
  8. MAC: 25.5
  9. C-USA: 38
  10. WAC: 50.5
  11. Sun Belt: 52

Really, all we care about at this point is the non-BCS conferences: Mountain West, WAC, MAC, Conference USA, and Sun Belt. And based on this listing for the past two years, it looks like the MWC is headed toward AQ status since it’s firmly entrenched in the top 6 (at number 4) for the first criterion.

The second part is trickier. I’ve seen a couple of blogs out there that attempted to calculate the final rankings by dropping high and low scores like the actual BCS formula does. However, the qualifications quoted above actually say “six”, not “four”, computer rankings will be calculated. That said, here’s the list for the second criterion:

  1. SEC: 38.7
  2. ACC: 40.4
  3. Big East: 43.4
  4. Big 12: 45.53
  5. Pac-10: 48.06
  6. Big Ten: 48.88
  7. MWC: 58.42
  8. WAC: 80.97
  9. MAC: 86.6
  10. CUSA: 81.06
  11. SBC: 95.94

MWC comes in 7th here. And while it _looks_ like they should catch the Big Ten, the reality is that the MWC as a whole really is three teams and a bunch of nobodies. You have Boise State, BYU, and TCU. The next best team after them? Air Force (averaging a rank of 50). And that’s not to mention New Mexico and Colorado State who are dragging everybody down with them (100 and 82, respectively).

What happens if they can’t reach that magic 6th spot? Well, there’s a provision for that:

… a conference will be eligible to apply to the Presidential Oversight Committee for an exemption if it finishes among the top six in both No. 1 and No. 2 and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 33.3 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3, OR

If it finishes among the top seven in either No. 1 or No. 2 and among the top five in the other and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 33.3 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3.

So, right now, the MWC needs to hit at least 33.3% of the conference with the highest ranking’s points.

Criterion number three requires a bit of research to find the final BCS rankings for the teams in the MWC. Note that this criterion pretty much puts the conference at the mercy of its best team.

To calculate the points, you check each conference’s members’ final rankings for 2008 and 2009 and see if any of them were in the top 25. If so, you assign points. For example, in the Big 12 in 2008, 5 teams finished in the top 25 – Missouri #21, Oklahoma #1, Oklahoma State #13, Texas #3, and Texas Tech #7. That’s worth 14 points. And in 2009, only Oklahoma State (#19) and Texas (#2) were Top 25 finishers. That’s another 5 points. That gives the Big 12 19 points. But since they only have 10 members (NOW), there is an added adjustment of 12.5% of the total. 12.5% of 19 = 2.375, so the Big 12′s total is 21.375.

Here’s the full list:

  1. MWC: 22.5 (–)
  2. SEC: 22 (97.8% of leader)
  3. Big 12: 21.375 (95.0%)
  4. Big Ten: 19 (84.4%)
  5. Pac-10: 19 (84.4%)
  6. Big East: 15 (66.7%)
  7. ACC: 12 (53.3%)
  8. MAC: 1 (4.4%)

CUSA, WAC, and Sun Belt Conference all have 0.

MWC definitely hits the jackpot here. The addition of Boise State raises their standing in the last criterion from 3rd place to leading the pack.

What does this tell us? Actually a lot. The reason why MWC is leading the pack is because of the bonus adjustment of +25% due to the fact that the MWC has nine teams. If the MWC expands to a 10th team (rumors are leaning toward the University of Houston) then the score for this criterion becomes 20.25, due to the adjustment being cut in half. Great, they still qualify, right?

Well, yes, if the AQ was determined now. But there’s still two years to go, and you have to believe that the trending for the MWC isn’t getting better for its teams – remember the exception process REQUIRES a 7th place score at worst – and several teams in the MWC got worse in ’09 than ’08. Air Force dropped from 39 to 59. Colorado State went from 62 to 101. New Mexico went from 86 to 115. UNLV went from 79 to 82. Outside of the big three (TCU, BYU, BSU) only Wyoming and San Diego State improved, but SDSU’s improvement isn’t saying much (110 to 95).

No, if trends hold true, MWC has no hope of climbing to 6th place in the 2nd criterion, and instead will have to apply for an exception… assuming that BYU and TCU continue to stay in top-25 form, because realistically, the rest of the MWC doesn’t have a chance to do that.

As for Boise State? Well, they were the big fish in the tiny, tiny pond of the WAC, now they’re a medium-sized fish in a bigger pond called the MWC, and they will have to play BYU and TCU every season instead of at the end of the season at a bowl game. In-season games make a huge difference on BCS rankings, and BSU just found it harder to get those undefeated seasons churned out.

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I touched on this last year here, where I laid out six reasons why the Pac-10 would not expand just willy nilly and grab Boise State and Utah.

Apparently, the new Pac-10 commish is seriously considering expanding, which is fine, but people need to understand that the Pac-10 is HEAVILY research-oriented and they are a major competitor in most sports, so several things must be factored into any school to be considered for expansion.

  1. Academics/research – Almost every school has either a major medical facility or research facility, and every school ranks in the top 100 in the world for academics. In the latest World University Rankings, Stanford is #3, California-Berkeley is #4, Washington is #6, UCLA is #17, Arizona is #28, USC is #32, ASU is #60, Oregon State is #72, Oregon is #82, and Washington State is #88.
  2. Presence – Every school is a major presence in their geographical area. There are no “tiny” schools in the Pac-10.
  3. Competition – The Pac-10 is the “Conference of Champions” for a reason: the number of championships won by the members of this conference FAR outnumber the total by any other conference. As such, members must have a tradition of competing hard and winning.
  4. Rivalries – Every school has a natural rival that also happens to be geographically “close” to each other. The farthest “rival” schools from each other are Washington (Seattle) and Washington State (Pullman), which are 5 hrs away by car.

So, knowing these are major criteria for any school to join the Pac-10, let’s go through some of the schools being touted by members of the media. The World University Rankings provides good insight on where these schools are ranked in relation to the rest of the world – more than 15000 universities across the globe are ranked in this research. Hence, the schools are sorted by World University Ranking.

  • University of Colorado (Boulder, CO) – Good research school, biggest presence in Colorado, however somewhat irrelevant lately in the Big 12 conference. Ranked #45 in WUR. Enrollment is over 30,000 students.
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT) – Major medical facility, major presence only overshadowed by BYU, major competitor in the Mountain West Conference. Location in large market. Ranked #48 in the World University Rankings. Enrollment is over 26,700 students.
  • University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM) – Plays in MWC, but is inconsistent in its competitiveness in men’s sports – the women, however, are rolling over their competition. Located in largest city in NM, also a known travel destination. Ranked #69 in WUR. Enrollment is over 24,000 students.
  • BYU (Provo, UT) – Biggest presence in Utah, major competitor in MWC. Location in smaller market. Ranked #84 in the World University Rankings (just ahead of Washington State). However, does not play any sports on Sundays, which is a major drawback to Pac-10 competition, and it has a dearth of graduate programs, also a turn-off for the Pac-10. Enrollment is over 34,000 students.
  • Colorado State University (Ft. Collins, CO) – Second biggest presence in Colorado behind UC, competitive member of MWC. Academia is still decent (#113 in WUR). Enrollment is over 26,000 students.
  • Utah State University (Logan, UT) – Plays in the WAC, but lately has been irrelevant. Located in very small market. Academics are better than half of the other schools being considered (#162 in WUR). Enrollment is just shy of 24,000 students.
  • San Diego State (San Diego, CA) – Competitor in MWC in many sports outside of football. Located in large market and travel destination. Ranked #233 in WUR. Enrollment is over 34,500 students.
  • New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM) – Competitor in the WAC. Located in small market. Academics are just ok (#276 in WUR). Enrollment is over 17,000 students. Second smallest school in consideration.
  • San Jose State (San Jose, CA) – Competitor in the WAC. Located in close proximity to Stanford, making it easy to reach. Part of the Cal State University system. Ranked #304 in WUR. Enrollment is over 32,000 students.
  • University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY) – Lately become more of a competitor in the MWC. Located in very small market. Academia is lacking (#374 in WUR). Enrollment is just under 14,000 students, making it the smallest school in consideration.
  • UNLV (Las Vegas, NV) – Competitor in MWC in many sports outside of football. Biggest presence in Nevada, location is well-known. Academics are not up to Pac-10 standards (#388 in WUR). Enrollment is over 31,000 students.
  • Boise State University (Boise, ID) – Lately has owned the WAC in football, but that’s pretty much it. Biggest presence in Idaho, however that’s not saying much. Academics are not up to Pac-10 standards (#491 in WUR). Enrollment is just under 20,000 students.
  • Fresno State University (Fresno, CA) – Competitor in the WAC. Part of the Cal State University system. Located in small market. Academics are not up to Pac-10 standards (#801 in WUR). Enrollment is over 22,000 students.
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, HI) – Competitor in WAC. Located in supremely desired location – imagine what that does for Pac-10 recruiting (“hey, you can play for us AND you’ll get to go to Hawaii twice in your four years here”). Academics lag behind all other schools in consideration (#824 in WUR). Enrollment is over 20,000 students.

Now, just for grins I’m throwing in two schools:

  • Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ) – Small market, currently does not play Division IA in football, but does in everything else. Member of Big Sky conference. Academics are ok (#302 in WUR). Enrollment is just under 19,000 students.
  • University of San Diego (San Diego, CA) – Large market, competes in Division I for all sports except football. Member of Pioneer Football League for Division IAA. Academics are behind most other schools listed above (#747 in WUR), and enrollment is just a tad above 7,500 students – but that’s because it’s a private school.

Based on the information above, if I went solely on academia, then obviously my choices should be two of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, BYU, or Colorado State. However, something else to consider is how the schools fare in athletics other than football. San Diego State is already an associate member of the Pac-10, so they automatically should be considered for expansion.

Hence, a Utah and San Diego State pairing would not be out of the question, though having those two play on rivalry weekend would be stretching a bit.

Geographically, SDSU and San Diego would make a perfect pair, except that USD doesn’t compete in Division IA football (stadium size is too small – 6000 seats), and USD’s research ranking is troubling.

SDSU and UNLV would make another “good” pair, as they are 5hr away by car – the same distance as Washington and WSU – but UNLV’s academic ranking is a 300 point drop from the rest of the Pac-10.

Utah and BYU would seem to be a marriage made in heaven, except BYU doesn’t play on Sundays, which becomes a problem for the other members of the Pac-10 who DO play on Sundays. And BYU isn’t all that competitive outside of football and maybe basketball or softball. And let’s not forget that BYU is distinctly lacking graduate programs, a big no-no when dealing with research universities.

Colorado/CSU would also seem to be a good match, but would Colorado want to leave the Big 12? Perhaps if they could guarantee one non-conference game a year against Nebraska. And I’m sure that CSU would jump from the MWC for the Pac-10 in a heartbeat – however, CSU probably wouldn’t get an invite without Colorado.

Utah/Colorado would be really good – 8hr drives not withstanding. This is probably the best pairing period.

Utah/Utah State is also not out of the question as they fit the presence and geographic criteria, and USU’s academia still is in the top 200 in the world. However, Utah State’s small market is very concerning, and like CSU, they probably wouldn’t get an invite on their own.

New Mexico/NMSU would be good geographically, but that also means the Pac-10 would have to take on a small school and weak academia (NMSU) and a low-key competitive-wise school (UNM). Granted, Stanford is also a small school (enrollment just under 15,000), but there’s a huge difference between Stanford and NMSU.

New Mexico/Colorado would be a good fit academically, and it’s actually a slightly shorter drive at 7.5 hrs, but again the inconsistent competitiveness of UNM is troubling.

New Mexico/NAU would be a surprise, though the distance between the schools isn’t all that far. But NAU’s small stadium and school size becomes an issue.

We know that the Pac-10 will not just add one school if it finally does choose to expand. And having an expansion helps other schools in the Pac-10 so they can round out football schedules (read: ASU) with Division IA teams.

I’m pretty sure that a BYU/UNLV pairing would probably not be highly thought of – complete polar opposite agendas there :)

As it is, BYU joining the Pac-10 is already under assault from Cal and Stanford – both far left-wing schools to begin with. Since any expansion requires an unanimous vote on schools to join, I believe that Cal’s opposition (Stanford notwithstanding) effectively kills any hope for BYU to join the Pac-10.

I think the biggest knock on one of the other teams, Colorado, is that they pretty much are a football school and really nothing else – there’s nothing really to gain from moving from the Big 12 (a BCS conference) to the Pac-10 (another BCS conference). Also, Colorado does not compete in several other sports that the rest of the Pac-10 does (swimming, baseball). However, there’s an outside chance that a CU-CSU pairing in the Pac-10 might pique their interest.

Thus, the best scenarios range from competitiveness in athletics to high academia to geographic location to just plain ol’ TV markets (in no particular order):

  • Utah / San Diego State
  • San Diego State / UNLV
  • Utah / UNLV
  • Utah / Utah State
  • Colorado / Colorado State
  • San Diego State / University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • New Mexico / UNLV
  • San Jose State / Fresno State

[2/11 UPDATE: The Big Ten has opened discussions with Texas to jump from the Big 12 to the Big Ten. If that happens, a Colorado jump from the Big 12 to the Pac-10 suddenly becomes a LOT more likely. If that is the case, look for a Utah/Colorado pairing to take place.]

The appeal of any scenario involving Utah is probably first and foremost in the new commish’s mind. And also the lure of the San Diego market is also very appealing. Like I mentioned above, a Utah/SDSU pairing would be very appealing for most everything except a geographic rivalry game – then again, all those Utah fans would probably jump at the chance to fly to San Diego every other year in late November.

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